A heavily armed man was arrested in Washington on Friday as he tried to pass one of the many checkpoints near the Capitol, where Joe Biden will be sworn in in a few days, according to a police report.
Wesley Allen Beeler, a native of Virginia, presented himself Friday evening at a checkpoint not far from the Capitol, details a police report consulted Saturday by AFP, confirming information from CNN. He had an “invalid” accreditation for Joe Biden’s investiture ceremony.
Police found a loaded handgun and more than 500 rounds of ammunition in the individual’s possession. On his white pick-up, several stickers defending the right to carry weapons: “If they come to take your weapons, give them your bullets first.”
Mr Beeler was arrested in the wake of possession of unregistered firearms and illegal possession of ammunition. “It was a good faith mistake”Mr Beeler told the Washington Post after being released. “I went to a checkpoint after getting lost in Washington: I’m a country guy”, he asserted. “I showed them the access badge to the ceremony that I had been given “.
Mr Beeler told the newspaper that he was assigned as a private security guard near the Capitol and presented a certificate issued by his employer. He said he carried a gun in Virginia but forgot to remove his gun from his vehicle before leaving his home for his night shift in Washington.
National Guard mobilized
The prosecution did not oppose his release, reported the Washington Post, specifying that he had nevertheless been ordered not to go to the capital except for the steps relating to the legal proceedings concerning him.
In reaction to the violent assault on Capitol Hill by pro-Trump supporters on January 6, Washington has in recent days taken on the appearance of an entrenched camp with its concrete blocks and barbed wire. The authorities fear new disturbances on the sidelines of the swearing in of Joe Biden, but also that the violence planned in Washington will spread elsewhere in the country.
Members of the National Guard have been mobilized in several states, and fences have been installed around some local parliaments, such as California, or Minnesota.
Usually, the investiture ceremony is an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of Americans to flock to the capital every four years, snatching up all kinds of derivative products bearing the effigy of their president, before to watch him take the oath on the steps of the Capitol. But the party will have a special taste this year: the “National Mall”, the immense esplanade at the foot of the Capitol, will be closed to the public.
Only duly accredited persons will be allowed to enter the area and it is likely that the number of soldiers patrolling the capital will exceed that of spectators on the spot.